Black Artists Smash Stereotypes in the Age of Streaming

Artists like Gary Clark Jr., Alabama Shakes and Michael Kiwanuka are finding new audiences as traditional labels falter.
Gary Clark Jr. is a blues musician and actor based in Austin, Texas who has had two albums on the Billboard Top 10.
CUL_BlackRock_04_567427165 Source: Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times/Getty

Over three decades ago, music critic Greg Tate co-founded the Black Rock Coalition (BRC), an organization dedicated to both promoting black rock bands and righting a historic wrong. While African-American stars such as Chuck Berry and Little Richard pioneered key elements of rock ’n’ roll in the early ’50s, the genre became overwhelmingly associated with white artists by the mid-’60s, leaving many black listeners and musicians feeling angry, alienated or both.

In just the past few years, a shift has occurred, one that helps young black rock acts succeed in ways that would have been impossible when the BRC began. “The younger black person getting into music now would be much more encouraged,” Tate says. “This is a great moment to be a genuinely ‘weird’

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